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Fuel-your-active-lifestyle-with-nourishing-nutrition

Fuel your active lifestyle with nourishing nutrition

Blessed with good weather, scenic outdoor environments and a national culture infused with a love of sports, it’s not surprising that regular gym, walking and hiking, running, cycling and swimming, soccer, tennis and lately, padel are popular pastimes in our active lifestyle.

Following an active lifestyle is important to many South Africans as it helps keep us fit and offers welcome respite from the daily grind.

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Supporting an active lifestyle

Whatever physical activities you enjoy, it’s essential to understand the role that nutrition plays in an active lifestyle.

“Whether you exercise routinely or play a favourite sport weekly or fit the definition of a lifestyle athlete who participates in competitive events, it’s important to recognise that you have somewhat different nutrient requirements than average,” states ADSA spokesperson and Registered Dietitian, Kelly Scholtz.

“You must tailor your nutritional intake to support the additional demand for energy, as well as for the micronutrients, protein and anti-inflammatory nutrients that are required for healthy recovery from exercise.”

Kelly explains that, as beneficial as it is, exercise represents a form of stress to the body. “Although this is a positive type of stress, your body still requires adequate nutritional support for optimal adaptation to your exercise routine.

Paying attention to your nutrition boosts not just your performance in your favourite sport but plays a preventative health role that enhances your overall enjoyment of your active lifestyle.”

active-lifestyle

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Start with a balanced diet

Your nutritional choices before, during and after exercise influence both performance and recovery. However, this all rests on the foundation of having an overall healthy, balanced diet.

People with active lifestyles can start supporting their health, well-being and performance with a general eating regimen that prioritises fruit and vegetables, legumes, lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy and healthy fats such as olive and avocado oils.

It’s best to focus on meals made from whole foods versus those that are highly processed.  Limit your alcohol intake and the use of tobacco or nicotine products.

“During exercise, particularly higher intensity exercise, your body uses glucose as its preferred fuel,” elaborates Kelly.

“Glucose is usually readily available in your blood after a recent meal or is quickly delivered from your body’s stores of glycogen in the muscles and liver. In the case of lower intensity activity, your body is also able to tap into fat stores for energy. If you are training for less than or up to an hour there is probably no need to eat or drink any extra calories or carbohydrates during that session. Plain water for hydration will do. Your body can fuel a training session of that length provided you are eating a healthy diet, which enables your body to top up its glycogen stores.”

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Overlay your energy, macro and micronutrient needs

For endurance activities lasting from an hour to up to 2.5 hours, refuelling during the session with 45-60g of carbohydrates per hour is generally recommended.

Everyday foods like bananas, dates and peanut butter sandwiches can be effective during endurance activities.

Kelly says: “The exact foods or drinks you consume can vary, and it’s a good idea to see what works for you during training rather than trying something new on race day. Individuals can have different reactions to different foods and drinks, and you don’t want to get a stomach-ache or worse at a critical time. So, if you are preparing for a sports event, then use your training sessions to test out the foods and drinks that work best for you.”

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Rehydrate and recharge post-workout

After a high-energy sports or training session, you can support your body’s recovery from the strain of exercise and promote muscle repair and adaptation with a snack or drink within 30 minutes. Optimal recovery snacks include a mix of protein and carbohydrates like milk with a banana, chocolate milk, an energy bar with lean biltong, or eggs or hummus on toast.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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